SPOKANE VALLEY — One extra day and a week of indoor practices later, Post Falls’ quickness and depth proved to be just enough to fend off University’s running game behind its massive offensive line.
Nate Buer ran for two touchdowns and passed for a third, Post Falls got a couple big second-half stops, and the Trojans scored the game’s last 17 points to outlast the University Titans 37-27 in nonleague high school football Saturday afternoon.
“U-Hi’s very physical, much bigger than we are up front, and it showed in the first half,” Post Falls coach Blaine Bennett said. “One thing that we have going for us it we’re a two-platoon team, so we have 11 defensive starters and 11 offensive starters. So I think that showed up in the second half. I think we were able to be a little bit more more fresh than maybe their big guys were.”
The game, postponed from Friday because of poor air quality, was still in doubt up until kickoff. While an air quality index of 150 has generally been used as the barometer for allowing games and practices outdoors, U-Hi officials said the AQI needed to be below 100 on Saturday — and it was, at 99 just before kickoff. It was down to 81 by halftime; it had been up in the 200s most of the week in the Inland Northwest.
“First of all, we were excited to be able to play the game,” Bennett said. “Hats off to the University administration — and the winds that got it (the AQI) under 100.”
“It was very different, going inside the gym all week,” Buer said. “We got to throw a few passes inside, run a little inside; there was no contact, so it was really hard to get stuff done, but we did the best we could.”
Behind an offensive line averaging 275 pounds per man, University (1-1) took the opening kickoff and ran the ball 12 straight times for 90 yards, culminating in Terrell Sanders’ 5-yard run and a 7-0 lead.
At halftime, Post Falls (3-0) trailed 20-13, as the Titans rushed for 195 yards, outgained the Trojans 260-137 and ran 37 plays to Post Falls’ 18.
The Trojans did a little better with controlling the ball in the second half, running 39 plays to the Titans’ 29. And for the game, U-Hi outgained Post Falls only 456-446.
Last week’s Coeur d’Alene-Central Valley game featured 29 possessions; Post Falls and University combined for 16.
Buer’s second touchdown run of the game, a 2-yarder midway through the third quarter, tied the game at 27 on a drive in which Post Falls overcame two 15-yard penalties.
U-Hi scored on four of its first six possessions, but Post Falls then stopped the Titans on downs at the Trojans’ 12. Five plays later, Buer’s screen to Braden Vaughan netted 59 yards and on the next play, Buer connected with Quin Bennett for 16 yards and Post Falls’ first lead of the game, with 10:04 remaining.
A tackle for loss by Gage Ficklin and a quarterback hurry by Jack Dewitt of Post Falls forced a Titan punt, and the Trojans drove to a clinching 30-yard field goal by Vaughan with 1:35 left.
“Bennett was calling great plays, we were executing well, Braden made a few breakthrough plays, and the line blocked really well,” Buer said. “We didn’t know if we were expecting a shootout, but it got there.”
“In the fourth quarter, maybe the freshness of our players showed up a little bit,” said coach Bennett, praising the aggressive scheme of defensive coordinator Adam Shamion.
The 208-pound Bennett ran for 97 yards on 13 carries, including 48 yards on six carries on the final drive as the Trojans unleashed their own power — albeit from the backfield.
Sanders ran for 174 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries for University, which totaled 377 yards on the ground.
Until a couple of completions in the final minute, the Titans’ only reception came on a halfback pass that went for 65 yards and a score just before the half to put U-Hi again.
Post Falls plays host to Cheney on Friday.
Post Falls 7 6 14 10 — 37
University 7 13 7 0 — 27
Univ — Terrell Sanders 5 run (Kaden McAllister kick), 5:40
PF — Braden Vaughan 27 run (Vaughan kick), 2:02
Univ — Sanders 3 run (kick failed), 4:59
PF — Vaughan 1 run (kick failed), 2:37
Univ — Kye Duplessis 65 pass from Zach May (McAllister kick), :50
PF — Buer 20 run (Vaughan kick), 10:24
Univ — Sanders 25 run (McAllister kick), 9:51
PF — Buer 2 run (Vaughan kick), 5:40.
PF — Quin Bennett 16 pass from Buer (Vaughan kick), 10:04
PF — FG Vaughan 30, 1:35
RUSHING — PF, Vaughan 10-78, Bennett 13-97, Ryan 1-9, Buer 3-44. Univ, Sanders 26-174, May 7-74, Gregerson 13-76, G. Wolcott 5-48, Kuolt 2-10, Bishop 2-4.
PASSING — PF, Buer 18-30-0-198. Univ, G. Wolcott 2-10-0-14, May 1-1-0-65.
RECEIVING — PF, Barber 3-6, Pfennings 5-54, Bennett 2-21, Bourgard 2-27, Williams 1-4, Ballew 1-8, Vaughan 3-84, Ryan 1-0. Univ, Duplessis 1-65, Johnson 1-16, Sanders 1-(minus 2).